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DVD Review

DVD cover

Far and Away (1992)
(2019 Reissue)


Starring: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Gibson, Barbara Babcock, Robert Prosky, Cyril Cusack, Eileen Pollock and Colm Meaney
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 17 June 2019

Alright, again the redoubtable marketing team at Fabulous Films have a reissue on their hands they don’t know how to, (or care to know) be positive about. Even the opening line of the press handout can’t be nice without a sneering  interpolation from Tony Parsons (I don’t know who he is either) as “a stinker of a picture” which robs the rest of Fabulous Films’s intro of any sincerity when it declares: “this epic tale of courage, passion and adventure directed by Oscar winner, Ron Howard is not to be missed.”

The hemlock strewn path doesn’t end there.  We’re told the great John Williams (composer of the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T. and the Indiana Jones series and the first three Harry Potter  films) composed and conducted the music for this Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman vehicle and the score features performances by the Irish band The Chieftains and the Enya revision of the old favourite ‘End of Days’ which earned a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song, despite the fact that The Chieftains have six Emmy wins and Enya is, well… beloved.

Then Fabulous Films dutifully recites a plaint about Tom Cruise’s verbalization of the Irish Tongue with a bold face quote from Hadley Freeman in The Guardian: “No movie accent will ever give me as much joy as Cruise’s Irish accent.” Of course The Guardian cares about the integrity of Irish heritage, right?  Yeah, Hadley this is an Irish story set in the 1890s when a working class Irish couple emigrate to the States to change their destiny and keep their dreams alive. Classist snootery toward such motivation is always an invalidation of individual heart and spirit but don’t mind me.

Hmm… out of the gate I’d say we have some class based animus here for a class of movie known as The Tom Cruise Movie. Can we set aside consensual opinions from somebody else’s bracketed absolute truth and just judge this horse by how it paces the track and pays off at the betting window? By how it makes us feel without being told how to feel about it? This is tricky for your humble and obedient reviewer because, after all, he is going to opine, isn’t he? Yes, but he’s going to try to judge Far and Away by itself, without the saddlebags full of cognoscenti concord.

Oh, oh… confession time.  Up until this paragraph I had not seen this movie. I missed it when it came out (due to leukaemia) and never got around to seeing it. The criticism of the criticism I voiced above was a natural reflex against what I felt was dogpile sentiment. Now that I’ve watched Far and Away I see that every maligner above was too kind. This is an abysmal movie. The Irish accents even from Irish actors was a study of Hollywood Irish perversion. The story of a continual turnabout between Cruise and Kidman becomes as predictable as a roundabout yawn. The production value in Dublin, notably the Temple Bar district is rich to the eye but sadly wasted. The Cruise fight sequences where he consistently beats the heck out of opponents two and a half times his size are… well, funny. The Oklahoma Land Rush sequence has a few spectacle shots but they are tiny compared to the William S. Hart classic silent western Tumbleweeds made in 1925.  Whenever Cruise and other actors are highlighted, their land rush backgrounds are cheatingly small. Characterizations are mugging displays of high school drama indication. It’s far from the best work these stars have done. Ron Howard’s direction seems to be hanging onto the reins with both hands and trying not to fall off. There is one transition between two panoramic wagon train shots that show he wasn’t getting either one to work so he slammed them together in vain hope of increasing scope but instead achieved epic torpor. Epic torpor. You don’t see that every day nor get to use the phrase.

Again, I apologize to everyone I chastised up above. The picture cost an estimated $60 million which is PR speak for ‘more than effin’ that… much more’.  Considering real cost (2 ½ times budget before break even) this horse pile lost $13 million.

There are bright notes: Colm Meaney is fun to watch.  And the magnificent Jared Harris, star of this year’s Chernobyl, appears briefly. But all in all, this is a Hollywood horse turd and I don’t mean to insult horses.

I’m about to enjoy a pint of Guinness, the most Irish thing I’ve experienced in the last three hours.


John Huff

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